Yesterday I met the grandmother of another baby in the NICU. We talked for a little while and she told me she couldn’t even imagine what it was like to be here so much. I gave my standard answer: it’s hard but we manage.

But her question made me think…how would I describe the NICU to someone if I really thought about it? There’s so much to say that it’s hard to sum up. I wanted to write it here so I won’t forget.

The NICU is the place that holds you and your emotions prisoner. It can make you the happiest you’ve ever been and then devastate you in the same moment.

The NICU is the place where you make friends without ever saying a word to someone. A smile in the hallway, a look exchanged when you’re waiting for the receptionist, a neighbor in the same pod as you. You have to stick together. These people get it. They’re in the same club as you.

The NICU is the place where you’re so tired but you’re too awake to sleep. Your eyes are burning with exhaustion but the moment you think about sleep an alarm goes off somewhere. It might not be yours but you have to check.

The NICU is the place where you learn to be a nurse and parent at the same time. You know at a moment’s glance that your child’s heart rate is too low or too high or just right. You memorize how much oxygen he needs, what his blood pressure is, how often he stops breathing.

The NICU is the place where you memorize the sounds of the rocking chairs as you sit every day, rocking back and forth, back and forth. After a while, the creak, creak, creak is more comforting than anything. It, at least, never changes.

The NICU is the place where your head aches from turning back and forth to read the monitor so often. You could move your chair but then you wouldn’t be able to see your baby.

The NICU is the place where you ask “Why?” so many times you lose count. You don’t even expect an answer after a while. Even if you got one, it wouldn’t be good enough. But you still wonder and so you still ask.

The NICU is the place where you wait. Wait for the doctors, for the nurses, wait for visitors, wait for the days to pass.

The NICU is the place where you celebrate milestones like two pounds, and then wonder if you would have ever thought two pounds was a milestone before this happened.

The NICU is the place where you can be surrounded by dozens of people but still feel all alone.

The NICU is the place where God works miracles.

That’s what the NICU is like.


18 thoughts on “The NICU

  1. We are sharing your story as fast as we can. You need all the support you can get.

    Thank you for sharing your precious baby and your story with all of us.

    I hope you can feel the heart hugs we are sending your way.

    smooches from Oz

  2. Amen… It is a place where God works miracles! God bless you, your family and your new addition! Our children were in NICU for about 6 weeks, which was a short stay compared to neighboring babies. There will be many milestones, a hundred hand washings, a few tubes, too many needle pokes, some tears and some smiles. Then the most amazing words “they are being tranferred”. ;) This too shall pass… keep faith! I look at our children today and cry tears of thankfulness and cant believe how they've grown… under 3lbs each, going on 50!

  3. We have you held in our thoughts and prayers. I too am passing your story around – gonna get you so flooded with love and support that we push that dark back so you can see the light shining through. When you need strength just look around and there we will be. <3

    Thank you for sharing so much of you and I hope that we can give back all that and more. Hang in there.

    Love from JustAnOrdinaryGirl – Dawn

  4. Hi there! The Bipolar Diva (My mama) sent me over here. I've had two preemies. My son was born at 28 weeks. he weighed three pounds 16″ long was in the Nicu until 38 weeks. He was fine just a very stubborn eater, still is! My daughter was born at 25wks.5 days, barely 2 lbs, for a couple weeks dropped under two pounds. She was only in the NICU 6 weeks. I know what you feel about the NICU family. The nurses, themselves, became second family to us. They took care of my tiny babies when I couldn't be there. They were my angels. They loved my babies as their own. The NICU can be filled with little kitten cries, nightmares, Hope, joy, fear, but, above all, miracles. The NICU to me means miracles. Cherish even the tiniest of milestones and the tiniest of dirty diapers. I will keep you in my prayers until your little one is in his real home in your arms forever.


  5. I think it is one of those things you can't explain to someone who hasn't been there, but if you have been there, it doesn't take a word of explaination to someone who has…it is trying to explain life and death, hope and hopelessness, courage and fear, sheer hapiness and sheer sorrow…. all these emotions happening sometimes seconds apart. it is a rollercoaster….know one day this experience will be in your past and it teaches you to value your children in such a special way. there are many of us with you in spirit. kiss those babes for us XO

  6. The NICU is the place where one of my sons was given a less that 1% chance of survival and that less than 1% is walking around perfectly fine 23 years later : ) So, yes it is definitely a place of miracles. One of the best things I was ever told was that the NICU was one step forward and 5 steps back. Just live in the moment and not the what ifs. You have to live for the moment you are in and not the future moments. Praying for you and your family : )

  7. Exactly… I could never understand it until I went through it. I think the experience will change me for the better but I sure wish I could have learned these lessons another way! I will give Josh lots of kisses for you! :)

  8. No, worries, you have your hands full, as do I at the moment. My husband was in a severe accident and life flighted to a trauma ICU on April 27. He's home now, but requires a lot of care. I don't get to keep up with my reading! I will come back and catch up when I can get an hour or two alone so I can concentrate.

  9. Karli, he was born at 26.5 weeks and was 14″ long. I think you're getting confused. Anna-Grace was 25.5 weeks, 2 lbs and 14″ long. They fought long and hard and are an amazing testimony!

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